Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant has officially announced his retirement at the end of this season in a poem written for The Players' Tribune.
Bryant's announcement comes mid-way through a particularly difficult season. After recovering from multiple injuries, including an Achilles' tendon rupture, Bryant has struggled through the Lakers' first 15 games. He is averaging only 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game on 31.5 percent shooting - all well below his career averages.
Bryant entered the NBA in 1996 and has since cemented himself as one of the best players of all time during his 20-season career. He has been selected for 17 all-star games, made 15 all-NBA teams, won five championships, and is the third leading scorer in league history.
Blazers fans will always remember Bryant for an alley-oop to Shaquille O'Neal late in game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals that clinched a trip to the finals for the Lakers at Portland's expense.
Bryant is scheduled to make a final appearance in Portland on January 23, although ongoing injury issues may prevent him from playing in that contest. The Blazers won the most recent game against the Bryant and the Lakers 106-98 last night. Bryant finished with 21 points on 7-20 shooting.
For additional Blazer's Edge coverage of Bryant's final season see our report on his praise for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and this analysis of why Blazers fans love to boo him.